Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Poster Help!

The folks at the YMCA want me to make a quick poster and description for the Aikido class and I'm shamelessly enlisting anyone reading for help. I have a couple of ideas for a brief description. As for images I was thinking of something like these...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Classes Begin Soon!

Status Update: I'm in the final stages of getting my class ready at the YMCA. As soon as my Shodan certificate gets here and I can show it to the activities director, I can begin on the 6th. It looks like I'll be teaching each Tuesday and maybe on weekends. My class is only going to be 45 minutes long (which I was hoping for an entire hour), but I'll take what I can get :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Gifts

Warning: Explicit Content!

So my roommate is married and his wife has a kid from her previous marriage. They were talking about what to get her son for Christmas and my roommate Rigney suggested getting him a BB gun and his wife freaked out and talked about how unsafe they were. This sparked a conversation about all the dangerous toys we grew up with that would never fly by today's standards. It reminded me of this....

After the demo class...

Well the director at the YMCA here wants to schedule a time for me to teach regular classes. There's only one catch though. The director at the YMCA is insisting on seeing a certificate showing that I am eligible to teach Aikido. The reason this is a problem, is because in our organization everyone upon reaching Shodan is expected to start shifting focus on teaching as part of your on-going training. Now granted, most people don't start teaching at Shodan. Nevertheless, I want to so I can have a good amount of practice partners and to ensure that I train regularly. I've told the activities coordinator on at least 4 occasions that there is no certificate but I can provide references from at least two highly ranked instructors, both with many years of experience under their belts. Today, I received an e-mail asking me when I can come by with a teaching certificate. The kung fu instructor there has explained that he had one and as far as the YMCA is concerned one martial art is the same as another. It's more than a little frustrating.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling

It's snowing here! I heard it snowed in Mississippi too, but not like this. It's been forever since I've seen nice thick snow that sticks and holds its for. I love the Christmas season! Pictures to follow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

First class

After initially getting to the YMCA I ran into the Kung Fu instructor and a few other people waiting outside the main office for the activities coordinator. I was told there would be 6 people in my evaluation class but after the coordinator came out, and actually getting to the room, I had two students (including the coordinator) plus the Kung Fu instructor who decided to observe. Things could've gone better as I had a lesson plan that went out the window after we got stuck on the first wrist release. It was difficult getting the idea of not resisting across. If someone pushes you, don't push back, just walk back a step. The reason it was difficult was due to Janice (the activities coordinator) being hyper and stiff due to working out a lot. She had a hard time relaxing and moving slowly. The other person, Rhonda picked up things relatively quickly. Class was only half an hour since Rhonda had to leave. Afterwards the Kung Fu instructor said he had no questions, except where my certificate showing I'm qualified to be an instructor was. I called Pat to make sure, but we don't have teaching certificates. Black belts are expected to teach as part of their training according to Karl's website. I told them I had a couple of people who could vouch for me, but they seemed to want a piece of paper as proof. I'm supposed to chat Monday to work out a schedule as to when I can start.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Class on Friday

Friday is my mock class at the YMCA, I'll post afterwards

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lack of responses

Ok I want a comment or two on my last post. Learning another way of doing Aigamae ate blew my mind. I've been thinking about that simple adjustment for days and no one's said anything about it. Pat, you've said you've been thinking of a response and you've posted twice since then so I know you must have something. Andy, you've been doing it the same way I have, what are your thoughts? COMMUNICATE

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Aikido in Poulsbo

I'll keep this brief because I want to make a video clip or two to demonstrate the cool stuff I learned. First off, everyone at the class was super friendly and cool. It never ceases to amaze me how family-like the Fugakukai always feels. It doesn't matter what part of the country or who it is, everyone always welcomes you with open arms and I couldn't dream of wanting it any other way. Ok that being said, there were a few differences (as there always are) between what I've been doing, and how they do things up north. Let me say different is not synonymous with bad, different is good. We had lots of space so instead of starting at Ma ai, we started 12-15 ft apart and I got to experience uke crossing into ma ai, which is something I haven't worked on in a while. Also, we did all the techniques left handed as well as right, which is also something I haven't done in a while and I'm glad to get the full thing now. Aigamae ate and gedan ate are the meat of what I want to talk about. Aigamae ate as we've been working on it at Pat's (second part of the video) started with the off balance, then a clock-wise turn as you drop out of the way behind the arm and then the hand to the face. The way we do it up here is still with the off balance then a counter clock-wise turn (kind of like in Owaza) which puts Uke right into Tori's hand. The thing to notice is the different directions of the spin after the off-balance. Gedan ate would probably be easier with the video clip but basically the only difference in how I did it at Pat's and how it's done here is the timing. At Pat's we seen to push through uke, and here there's a spot where we rise with uke but don't continue to step around behind him which causes uke to step into tori and it puts tori right into position where all he has to do is drop his weight. I know the video is not gedan ate, but gyaku gamae ate, it's just that it's the closest video I could find to demonstrate. The point I wanted to make is how Karl about 7 secs in doesn't continue around, but rises and uke just ends up where he needs to be. The SAME thing can happen with gedan ate you're just a little lower and rising up uke's body and he just falls into place. Comments? Oh and if you're reading this Pat, I invented this new way of doing things. Karl just copied me and put videos online (don't say anything Sensei Sheehy, let me have this).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mock Class at the YMCA

After talking about the differences between Hapkido and Aikido (and a LOT of reassurance that I won't be teaching a religion in the class), I have an Aikido class I'm teaching in December. I'd appreciate ANY pointers anyone could give, especially during the first class that will be a mock class for the employees at the Y before teaching members.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feeling like a white belt again

So I went to this Hapkido class tonight and the first thing the instructor asks me is "Have you taken any other martial arts before?" I say "Well I just received my Shodan in Aikido" and he gives me this stern look and says "Well this is HAPkido". I say "yes sir, I'm just here to participate" after that the rest of the class was smooth. I use the word smooth liberally. I can't kick high, or do a middle knuckle punch, or a spinning kick well at all. I was making so many errors I felt like the first day I ever took a martial arts class. Not to mention that the first hour of class was running in place, then push-ups, then dive bombers, ect. I'm not lazy (well too lazy) but I was ready to start doing some real techniques, then came ukemi (falling). That was the only part I felt I did well in, although I got some quizzical looks with the way I fell (one knee up, the other leg out). Nevertheless, my rolls were smooth :). I was told a few times that I was too quiet when I rolled back to my feet, that I should slap hard and say "HAI!" as my shoulders rolled over the mat. I've been working towards being quiet for a while now. The beginning wrist releases are completely different, although the way they grip (not using the index finger) was the same. I noticed most movements were same hand, same foot too. My initial impression of Hapkido and Aikido is like two distant cousins meeting for the first time. They have the same family tree if you go back far enough, and a few of the same genetic quirks...but for the most part, they're pretty different.

When the YMCA comes a calling

So while looking for a job I received a call from the YMCA about my application. I'd put that I was a Shodan in Aikido and they asked me if I'd be interested in teaching a class a week for them. I told them I couldn't rank anyone and that I wasn't willing to teach children. One of the staff there in charge of hiring has a husband that used to take Aikido which is why they called. They gave me a free pass to attend a Tuesday and Thursday class to determine if the Aikido I'd be teaching is different from their current Hapkido class. If all goes well I'd teach a mock class for the YMCA staff and then be teaching a regular class if they think it would be a nice fit. Oddly enough, I'd be teaching to earn enough money so I could attend the classes in Poulsbo. Who ever heard of a teacher teaching so he could become a student?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holiday Best Wishes

I was going to put a clip of Steve Martin playing banjo up, but instead here's a picture of him playing, and a message for Thanksgiving. I know it says Christmas, but its theme and core of the message is universal.

Banjo music...and it's Jazz!

I'm still getting people asking me why I want to learn Jazz on the banjo. I've come across a couple of examples of songs I really liked. I'll post 3 of them here. The 1st two are by a guy named Eddy Davis playing by himself. Keep in mind he wasn't in any studio, just playing by himself in the living room. The last is by Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, a current group that does a Jazz and Bluegrass mix. Enjoy....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Job Hunting

Well I've been looking around Bremerton for work, at least until school starts. While putting an application at the YMCA, I noticed there are two martial arts classes. One of which is Kung Fu by a 6th degree black belt, the other is Hapkido taught by a shodan. If I do start working there, I might attend a class or two. Other than the applications, I've been practicing my banjo and trying to write another issue. It sucks that now that I have all this time to write, I don't feel like it anymore.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Aiki Buddy Gathering Photos

Here's a group shot from the Aiki Buddy Gathering of 08. There are many more photos on facebook if anyone's interested. From left to right starting from the top the participants were: Dr. Usher, Andy, Patrick, Pat, ME, Chops, and I can't remember the name of Dr. Usher's student on the bottom right (sorry dude).

Quick Post about the comic...

It's come to my attention that I was so excited posting photos on, and talking about my comic that I never told anyone what it was about. It's the story of a man who can clone himself but only a limited amount of times. Also, each clone has his own personality and agenda. Although he's a super hero, the story revolves more around the relationship between the main character and his clones who act more like his younger brothers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Settling In

Well it's been a week, I've put in a resume in a couple of places and had my first banjo lesson. It's really pretty up here (and a little rainy). I've been to a museum or two and gotten the tourist stuff out of my system. I've been considering building a puppet of myself (due to influences at the puppet and marionette museum/children's theater). I was planning on going to the Aikido club here this Tuesday but they're closed due to Veteran's Day. Thus far it's been a good experience. I'm apparently going to two Thanksgiving dinners and Beleek is supposed to be visiting just after Christmas. Just a quick look into what's going on with me :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Recently me and my roommate have been playing around with MCMAP (Marine Corps Maritial Arts Program) changes. It's very different than what they taught when I went through. They've taken out one or two useless strikes, like their implementation of the ridge hand. They've also added a few wrist throws. Rigney was showing me a throw that was sort of like kote-gaeshi except it's a hand grab and with the other hand "Tori" twists the elbow. A lot of the throws are ridiculously easy to stop by straightening your arm but I am glad to see they're trying. Also while in Aikido our style is to step off the line then disengage, theirs is to step into Uke on the line and engage and control. Not suprising, but I was suprised at how well Pat's "rolling the ball" technique kept Rigney off me while we had a little friendly randori. I just side stepped and brushed him off me repeatedly for a few mins till he gave up.

Monday, November 3, 2008

About the Pictures

Pat's wife Elise took many MANY pictures during the course of the week. SO many in fact, that she didn't have time to edit out the ones that didn't look well. She said she'd mail me a disc with my test pics on it. In the meantime here's a pic or two wearing my HUGE belt. I feel like a little kid who put on dad's oversized shirt trying to pass myself off as an adult.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shodan Test

Where to begin? This morning I woke up and I couldn't breathe at all out of my nose and was sore as could be from yesterday. I took a hot shower to break up some of the congestion and later realized I was running a fever. It would not have been bad at all except that it's one of those fevers that just suck the strength right out of you. We had a morning Aikido class at 9am and the rank test demonstrations were at 2:30. I started stretching around 1 and working out with Patrick (my uke for my test and I was his uke for his). We drilled through the kata a few times and I was soooo tired. At the actual test though, I pushed through it and fell fine for Patrick and felt energized. I definitely wasn't at my "A" game today but passed my test anyway. My favorite part was during a demonstration of Nijusan (the 23) I either stepped awkward, or didn't get the right push from Patrick, well SOMETHING happened that changed our relationship while we were moving and it ended in a cool throw that happened just by me following the motion. It was very Aiki like. Andy tested for his Ikkyu rank and I think his Nijusan demonstration went better than mine. The highlight of the day was when Pat was shaking my hand and said "here, I've got something for you" and gave me HIS black belt. It's WAY too large for me, but full of his Ki to be sure :) I was flabbergasted and didn't know what to say. I was quite honored and still am a little taken aback from it. Pat's wife Elise Parker took pictures of the days events and as soon as she's done burning cd's of it I can post them here. She took over 1000 photos though so you'll get the highlights. If you'd like to see the WHOLE thing, check out my facebook page. Shortly after class all my energy left me again and I need it back soon. I move for Washington (state) in 2 days and will continue my Aikido education with Thomas Sheehey. It feels weird being a Shodan (and I know everyone says that) but I guess I thought I'd be the first to have some epiphany after putting the belt on. Maybe next rank :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

The rest of the Aiki Buddies are getting here tonight so the two day seminar can commence. Don't hate me, but with the scheduling of when they're getting here and when Pat's rugrats are going trick or treating, I can't put up pictures until tomorrow...because there won't be any until then. I'll post something though, even if I have to take pics on my phone and post them that way. My shodan test is Saturday (tomorrow) as well and all should go well on it. More info to follow...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aiki Buddy Gathering update

Taking my Shodan test on Saturday. Lots of Nijusan practise with Patrick and for those of you who keep asking (one in particulair) I will put up pics tomorrow night. The throws are getting easier and I'm confident I'll pass my test with flying colors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Day at Week Mokuren

Well the first day of training went well. We had two Aikido classes and a Judo class. Pat's showing us general motions to improve our overall demo for rank tests at the end of the week. I'm learning lot, but man I'm sore. I have no idea how but I ended up with mat burn on my eyelid so it stings when I blink and a swollen hand. First days are always full of surprises. Me and Andy are sleeping out in the dojo. I would say it's cold, but I brought a feather comforter so I've actually been sweating at night. We played with the kids a few hours yesterday as well and I can't say which is more exhausting, 5-6 hours of martial arts training or 2-3 hours of kid play time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Going to Aikido Week

I'm off to Pat's today so there will be no posting for a week, but anyone reading my blog should be used to that by now :) Originally the plan was for me to test for my Shodan this week, hopefully nothing's changed. If all goes well, by the end of the week I'll be a black belt in Fugakukai Aikido and on my way to Seattle, WA to live with a close friend in one fell swoop. Wish me luck. I'll post as soon as I get to Washington for an update of what happened at Pat's Aiki Buddy Gathering. Andy will also be there, so be sure to check out Pat's and Andy's blogs too to get the whole story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An update from home

Since expanding my blog to my weekly (or bi-weekly with how often I've been posting) activites, I thought I could let everyone in on what's been going on since getting back to Mississippi. It's been a whirlwind of fishing, riding four-wheelers, gambling on the coast, eating home cooked meals, and helping my uncle repair leaf blowers and weed wackers (his at-home buisness). On the not so great side, I finally had "the talk" with Beleek, the girl I was seeing in Orlando. I knew we couldn't realistically keep a relationship going cross country, it's just a subject I was hoping to avoid for, I dunno, a year or so. It's the Aikido in me, avoid or redirect, never confront :) Anyway in other news, our comic artist in LA has been having trouble with his moving arrangements so the comic pages won't be started till Nov 1st, much to the detriment of my many fan. I did however solve my car problem. That uncle I mentioned also has a hobby or repairing old cars and he's got a 1965 ford mustang that just needs a little more work and he only wants what he put into it to get it fixed, so I've got quite the road trip ahead of me in a few months going cross country. Next week is Pat's Aiki Buddy gathering and I'm supposed to be tested for my shodan. Wish me luck everyone...I'll need it :) I will say one thing has come STARKLY into view this week. I have some wonderful friends. I don't think I tell them enough how much better my life is with them in it. If while reading this anyone just instantly pops to mind and you say to yourself "Yeah, my life would've turned out differently if ___ and I never met", take the time to let them know.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A week and a half to go

I've gotten most of my stuff packed and sent off getting ready for Oct. 11th. That's when I head back home for a couple of weeks, go to Pat's Aiki Buddy Gathering and then head out for Washington. In the meantime I think we've finally hammered out the details of what our comic book character "Multi-Task" will look like. Here's Zack's latest artistic interpretation of me and Rob's vision :) I have to say it's really strange having an idea
3 months ago, putting it on paper and having someone take your
idea one more step farther. We've also gotten our hands on a letterer named Jeff Powell. He's done work for X-men and daredevil among others.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Martial Arts basics...and cooking

Aikithoughts (the link is on the right for the over-all blog) has a wonderful post up comparing martial arts to cooking. Please take the time to check it out. Here's the link.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Comic update

Me and Rob got back from Tampa. It's weird seeing an artist actually draw a character you were just bs-ing about not 6 months ago. Now the project has a life of its own with a mostly completed character, script for a first issue, an artist, writers, inker, colorist, and letterer. We plan on pitching it in a few months once the first issue is completely done. Check out the Multi-Task link on the side to get a better idea. Many thanks to Zack by the way for helping me and Rob with artistic direction. I'll keep everyone posted as more develops (and maybe a preview page or two) so stay tuned...same bat time...same bat channel.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Packing up

Well I'll be moving soon. I'm heading to Bremerton, WA (right outside Seattle) to continue my education. I've already found a new Aikido place just a few miles away...which will be a nice change from being an hour and a half away, one-way, from a place to study. I'll also be learning jazz banjo. I know it seems silly but I've always wanted to learn banjo...even though oddly enough I don't really like bluegrass. Before the move though, I'll be going to Pat's for his (now annual) Aiki-Buddies Gathering. My blog will change from occasional updates about my limited practice times, to a more comprehensive understanding of Aikido, my schooling, Judo, Banjo-do, and whatever else I feel like. Since I'll be home for most of October and the beginning of November, I probably won't post during October. The latest news is this Friday me and Rob (a friend of mine I met while working at my current comic shop), are going to Tampa to talk to an artist who worked freelance on Atomic Robo, to do some work for us on a comic we're writing. More on that later. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still here...

Just reminding everyone I'm still looking at my blog. I just don't really have anything interesting to report lately. I've been doing Aikido with Rob on and off, and I'm learning more helping him be an uke than I ever did as a Tori. I'm definitely getting a better sense of why certain moves work. For instance, the other night I was trying to show him gyakugamae ate but I kept instinctively doing ushiro ate. Now maybe I was doing something completely wrong, but from examining it with Rob I think I know why I was doing ushiro ate. After getting the initial off-balance to the side, Rob was compensating and keeping his back straight with little to no downward motion so I kept slipping behind him and catching the shoulders. Now anyone PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, but going through the 17 or 23, we move from one off balance to another to demonstrate how to move with uke if uke does "x". So uke determines what happens to him, we just move with him until he commits to falling a certain way. In that line of thought, I couldn't do gyakugamae ate no matter how much I wanted to, but I could do ushiro ate all day :) Anyone have any thoughts on how to teach someone completely new to Aikido how to get off balanced a certain way to demonstrate a certain move?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some Stand-up observations

Me and Beau went down to the garage for the first time since our last stand up randori session. Last time I was attempting Pat's advice of rolling the ball and it was working, but only for separating us in a tight space. So we ended up outside of striking distance and went right back into it. I was talking about it with Bryce last night and he was saying from his personal experience (and only his personal experience) that if you're in an enclosed space then attacking works, but not necessarily attacking Uke's face or body. What he meant was, waiting for a strike to be thrown then attacking your opponent's wrist or elbow or shoulder to off balance him (while keeping your posture) and just keeping him off balance. I tried that today and while I initially took a few shots to the face and maybe a black eye, in the end that strategy worked pretty well. I was catching Beau's elbow with a hand or sometimes his shoulder which would make him stumble and I just kept that up. It usually ended up with him falling and latching on to me causing me to fall with him then we transitioned into some groundwork...which is always fun :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Grappling with Beau

Beau is a friend of mine from high school I went into the Marine Corps with and later became a roommate to me and Andy. Beau has always hated grappling of any kind be it Judo, wrestling, or MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program). He has always said that two men rolling around together was just homosexual but the other night admitted that he's just never been good at it but wanted to get better. Me and Andy have been trying to get into Judo for the longest time so we'd have another buddy to practice with, so I was ecstatic to give him a hand in learning a few positions. We've been doing the hold down cycle and giving a few reps specifically with kesa and kata gatame along with Mune gatame. After a few randori sessions I figured out Beau's only problem is when he would find himself in a position unfamiliar to him, he would freak out and waste all his energy flailing around instead of a controlled attempt at escape. So I started putting him in holds and when he would start flailing I'd set it a little tighter and tell him to calm down and look for a place to shrimp or bridge (or both). After just a week he's doing fantastic. He's giving a lot of energy in short bursts and if it doesn't work he's switching tactics almost immediately. At this rate he'll be throwing me around before I leave in a few months :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Holidays

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.

-Albert Einstein

Happy 4th of July Everyone

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Close Quarters

First off, thanks again for so many replies to my previous post. I confess I watch UFC matches from time to time because every so often you see some guy do something extraordinary in a circumstance where he's losing and suddenly he comes out on top. 99% of the time it's on the ground and the guy "losing" is remaining calm. I see people who are mounted get punched and turtle up while the guy on top beats on them until the ref stops it and tonight me and my roommate Beau wanted to test that. I've got a couple of pairs of grappling gloves and I let Beau get in the mount and told him to swing away and see if I could stop him. We later switched to where I had him in guard and same situation. Admittedly Beau is just learning about grappling but I could stop him from punching me without him landing a solid blow 8 out of 10 times from each position. The other 2 times he'd hit me once before I'd grab the arm or reverse the position or figure a way out of it. It's incredibly hard to punch someone when they buck you or throw their hands in that middle space between you and them while you're trying to hit them. Afterwards I wanted to work on my avoiding being punched while standing up. I tried Pat's Aiki brush-off several times and it worked most times. What I had problems with was that given we were in my garage on my mats, which are about 8' x 8', it's hard to stay out of ma ai. When contact is made, I noticed I could jump in and close the space, but that doesn't feel Aikido-like, but moving away doesn't do anything but free him up to swing again. I can't seem to get any solid off-balance while moving around in small spaces. Suggestions?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Social Responsibilites and Martial Arts

I know not too many people read my blog but I'd really like a response from each person that does on this one. Tonight I saw an overweight guy run out of a bar being chased by 3 athletic looking guys all carrying a plastic cup of beer. The 3 guys chased him to right in front of my comic shop and knocked him to the pavement and he was almost hit by a car. At first me and the people in the shop all thought it was just 4 guys screwing around outside the bar, as is common during Friday nights...until the guy being chased was punched in the face and hit his head on the pavement. He was unconscious while the 3 athletic guys kicked him while trying to not spill their beer. I ran out of the shop to try to stop them before things got worse but they left before I was out the door. Everything happened really fast and by the time I'd run up to the guy (only 30 feet or so away) there were 5 guys around him also from the bar yelling at him and slapping him in the head trying to wake him up. I'm sure his nose was already broken and he possibly had a concussion so I told everyone to get back and had one guy call for an ambulance and sat with the guy in case whoever came back and to make sure things didn't get worse for him. Apparently he'd gotten drunk and said some things to the 3 guys who knocked him out. When I walked back into the shop my assistant manager asked me why I went out there since it was none of my business. That brings me to my point. Do we only learn martial arts to defend our own person, or people who can defend themselves have the obligation to defend others? Now I have no idea who this guy was or what he said, but it seems to me 3 guys beating up one drunk guy doesn't seem right no matter what he said...much less kicking him after he's unconscious and already hit his head on the pavement. Also who slaps someone in the head repeatedly after he'd just been knocked out? That guy claimed to be a lifeguard and deal with that sort of thing all the time.I just really wanted everyone else's thoughts please. In case anyone was wondering, the guy who was beat up came to before the ambulance arrived and thanked me for making sure he wasn't in worse condition when he woke up...until he tried to get in his car to drive home and I wouldn't let him. He'd been drinking and just regained consciousness, but thankfully a friend of his took his keys and drove him home. Whoever he is I'm sure he'll think about how much he drinks or at least what he says next time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ukemi, ukemi, and more ukemi

After talking with Bryce about my upcoming Shodan test in a few months, he suggested I get back into falling practice. Bryce suggested 30-50 side falls a day to get back into the swing of things. I started with 35 on each side making sure to properly get up by pushing up my hips so there's no strain on my knees. After the side falls (which I know 35 on each side should be nothing but I've been really lazy about it and now I suffer for it), I do 10-20 forward rolls and a few reps of tegatana.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Woodhinge and Shodan

I have no idea why Pat called his last event in fall Woodhinge but nevertheless....the title stands. I definitely plan on attending before my move in November and Pat's invited me and Andy to stay at his place the week before for some extra training. If all goes well, Andy will receive his Ikkyu and I'll get my Shodan (first degree black belt)! To top things off, Rigney (my old friend I'll be moving in with up near Seattle loves to grapple, so hopefully I can brush up on some Judo too :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moving this Winter

Me and Rob have been practicing every Friday as usual on Honasu and Nijusan. Just wanted everyone to know I'm still practicing. Now for a personal story....and this has nothing to do with Aikido but I was so blown away by the events of the past few days I felt like sharing. Me and my girlfriend of 2 years broke up a few months ago and recently got back together before I realized she had no idea who I really was. I'm talking about little things, couldn't name any music I like, or activities I like (other than Aikido), favorite color, foods I like, my hopes and dreams. She got defensive and asked me the same things and I could name all of them. It's weird to find out the person you were in love with doesn't know you at all, so we broke up again. That was two days ago and today I receive a call from a friend of mine who I was in the Corps with that I haven't heard from in almost 2 years. Apparently he's now stationed where I used to be, right outside of Seattle. I loved it up there and he offered to let me live with him while I go back to free :) I'm not an overly religious man, but I do have my convictions and wanted to remark on those mysterious ways people hear about but usually never cite....this is one of them. I lost the only thing tying me here and two days later was given a great opportunity to better my situation. Plus I'll be 15 mins from Paulsbo which is where another Fugakukai dojo that teaches Aikido is located. It'll be nice to not have to drive an hour and 45 mins to go to class.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Tend to Forget

I keep forgetting or prolonging my posts...especially lately. There's not a whole lot to say, me and Rob have been going over the walking kata (Tegatana) and Honasu every Friday for almost 2 hours like clock work. It still amazes me how you never feel you're getting better at Aikido until you work with someone less experienced. I recently went back to Mississippi for my little sister's graduation and stopped by Pat's for my usual visit. Although we were only going over variations on Honasu, I felt I did better than I was expecting to. I even noticed a very rare instance Pat looking surprised. In extremely good news I should be getting a car soon which means I can FINALLY start going to Vero Beach Aikido. My plan is to have my Shodan by the end of the year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stupid Drill With Rob

The past couple of weeks during my Aikido class, me and Rob have been going over the "stupid drill" It's a series of movements transitioning between kote gaeshi and kote hineri, and occasionally kote mawashi. It's a repetitive but necessary drill. The better you get at it, the less you have to think about doing it, hence the name. We've also been doing the Nijusan chains to help Rob develop that ability to follow where you feel your opponent taking you instead of just trying to predict it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Free Jujitsu Class...

Well I walked to where I work and changed over for the Jujitsu class being held next door. I arrived at 11:45 and the class was supposed to start at 12. There must've been 60 people in a space made for 30 or so. Apparently the instructor asked several of the members from the other locations around Orlando (they're a chain) to come to the first day of class. I've never seen so many gi's of different colors and patterns and patches before. Blue tops with black pants, or white pants with black tops and blue belts. Purple ones, ones with 20 or so patches on them, it was like a carnival :) and I felt a bit out of place considering I was the only guy weighing less that 190lbs and looking like I don't go to the gym religiously. That being said, the place is laid out more like a gym than a dojo anyway, there were heavy bags in the corner and a ring for MMA practice. After a light warm-up of 50 jumping jacks, some squats, push-ups, lunges, and lots of stretching class began and I got to know a lot of the guys. There was Ralph, the big former football player/wrestler with wrists as big as my fist, and Rachel the tom-boyish girl who wanted to learn to beat up her brothers. Everyone was really nice and respectful during class (and overly macho outside of it), but I guess that's part of the atmosphere. I learned as much if not more watching people do groundwork after class than what I learned during class...but we'll get to that. The first move shown was more of a self defense maneuver as it involved two people stand with one grabbing the other's hair. The defender is supposed to grab the attacker's wrist and push upwards stretching the attacker's arm out and move around to a waki-gatame position. I was used to just walking away with the arm until uke (the attacker) falls to the ground and taps out, but in class they had us fall straight to the ground with the arm-bar and roll on top of uke crushing his/her shoulder. It was an interesting experience. While working on most of my partners, Rachel is freakishly double (or triple if that's possible) jointed where her arm can extend abnormally farther back than it should when the elbow's bent. The technique still works, but it took some getting used to seeing the person's arm bent about 10 degrees farther back than it would on anyone else. We went over the guillotine, the triangle choke, the crucifix (MMA guys and UFC fans will know these advanced techniques) and I was surprised they had the beginners doing these on their first day. There was no rolling or shrimping, but I think they're just showing what people could eventually learn to do well in order to get everyone to come back. After class I was watching everyone doing randori and it seemed that not many people like to get into any side control position. It was acrobatic in how they threw their legs over to get a seemingly impossible arm-bar from their current position. The hardest thing for me to get was the terminology. They would say exactly what you should do to make something happen (move your feet 3 steps this way while keeping your legs straight and your shoulder on his head) but didn't really say the principle of what was happening. I luckily had a former judo guy to say "oh all he's saying is, keep your weight on uke's head while you circle around" and I would say "ah ha" and suddenly be able to do it. Also the differences between the "do" and "jitsu" mentality is very apparent. I had a wrist lock at one point and the instructor asked "now what are you going to do" and I said "well I have control, I'm going to let (whoever it was I was working with) up" and the instructor said "well they didn't tap, you might not have the submission" and I said "I could have it if I squeezed, but I've stopped them from being able to hurt me and that's all I care about". I know he was just making sure I was doing the technique right, it's just after it happened it hit me how much that "keep someone from hurting you" instead of "hurt someone who's trying to hurt you" mentality has stuck with me. Thanks Pat.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Getting Ready for Jujitsu

Well me and Rob have been neglecting our Ukemi so we're going to do plenty of falling tonight at practice. After an extensive warm-up I think we'll do the hold down cycle a few times so I can knock off the cob webs before the free Jujitsu class tomorrow. I plan on evaluating it and seeing if I want to join. It's also a place where a ton of MMA guys go so I'll have plenty of bodies to practice my groundwork on. I just need to make sure my transitions stay smooth. From what I've seen, Jujitsu guys seem to spend a lot of time in guard and mount but I hardly ever see any time spent in mune gatame or kesa gatame.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Honasu and Crazy-Man Randori

Me and Rob finished Honasu and did a dozen repetitions of the initial movements then we moved into the first chain. After flowing back and forth a few times, I talked about Pat's "Rolling the Ball" exercise and did a little crazy man randori. In this exercise, uke attacks tori's face (at a safe speed) and attempts to maintain eye contact and attacks with either hand any time uke gets an opportunity to. After off-balancing me a few times while backing away, Rob got the hang of it and we did a few movements of Nijusan, mainly waki-gatame and kote gaeshi.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tegakana and Nijusan with Rob

Last night me and Rob did tegatana about 5 times then moved into Honasu. We had plenty of time so we did all 8 wrist releases. After beating those to death and exploring what happens if Uke changes his direction, we went into Nijusan....and that's when we hit Gedanate. I know a lot of people have problems showing this in kata so I did what I always do. I explained to Rob I can only show him what I know, and what I know is that Gedanate feels linear to me and I can only demonstrate it in a linear fashion i.e. Junanna. So after making Rob suffer through ramblings of me talking about the rise and fall of the body and what can be done with it, he got to practice Gedantate (the "look at your watch" push) and got one really good push with it. Couldn't do it again for the rest of the night and I explained that sometimes that's how Aikido is during practice. You get one really good move but can't seem to re-enact it. We'll try again next class.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Night With My New Student

Well after work Rob came over for his first night of Aikido. I over-explained everything like I do with all new students. I just wish I could unload all the knowledge I've gained into their minds in one night. I always forget how long it took me to absorb what little I have :) We started with Tegatana (the walking kata) and moved into ukemi (falling techniques). We did some backrolls and a few triangle rolls. I think once Rob gets comfortable with rolling over in a circle he'll do well at them. We spent most of the night doing the first wrist release from Honasu and Shomenate (the first attack from Nijusan [or Junanna whichever you do]).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Uke

Well I was relaying my falling experiment and class with Sensei Crist and how I want to try attending but also how I'd like some extra practice to Rob, a fellow worker. He graciously offered to learn Aikido from me if I'd be willing to teach him (which gives me a steady partner). I love introducing Aikido to people who haven't been exposed to it before. Hopefully I'll be competent enough and he'll be willing enough to stick with it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Late Night Chat With Andy

Andy went to Sensei Crist's class today and upon returning we talked about some ideas of what he'd take back to Pat's with him. Sensei Crist does multiple attacker randori so hopefully Pat will implement that. I wish Andy luck and hopefully he'll visit and we'll have both grown in our Aikido and Judo by then.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Back in Training

Well I attended a new dojo that is Fugakukai related yesterday. It's lead by Sensei Charles Crist. Here's his site . That means I have a new instructor Pat and will be twice the Aikidoka when I get back to challenge you for your dojo. New Dojos are always a wonderful learning experience. Sensei Crist is very concerned with what he teaches being practical in a real life situation and making sure his students (especially his boys) don't fall into patterns practicing that might hamper them in a real fight. For instance above a certain grade he wants techniques done at full speed unless it needs to be analyzed. If something doesn't work, he wants everyone to keep moving and try to do SOMETHING instead of just stopping. There will also be emphasis on multiple attacker randori (which I'm all in favor of). It IS a little hard being taught one thing by a 7th dan and doing that over and over till it's natural to you, then being taught a completely different timing and variation by someone else (but BOTH work). It's really nice challenging yourself in a new setting to see how your Aikido works and more importantly feels against different uke (especially when neither of you are used to each other's styles).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Apologies

It's been over a month since my last post...and over a month since I've done any Aikido or Judo. I've been promoted at work and it's demanded a huge amount of my time. The up-side is I'm a manager of a comic shop (dream job) and I'll soon be getting a car and able to drive to Vero Beach to attend Aikido regularly under a higher ranked Aikidoka again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Trip Back Home

Well as Pat posted, me and Bryce showed up for Judo last Friday and got some good randori in. We also went over the off balance from deashi and why it's the first technique generally taught at the Kodokan. Saturday morning Vincent (an older Judo guy who used to come to class) showed up at Aikido much to my surprise. We did some crazy man randori which I've now done a few times with Beleek. After class on Saturday I did the first couple of Owaza with Bryce and a little randori with Vincent. If nothing else it reminded me how important getting in shape can be. I just hope I'm progressing, it's a little hard to get a straight answer from Pat sometimes. It's frustrating sometimes being the highest ranked person and knowing you've still got so much to learn, especially before teaching others. I feel like I'm in a rut. If I had the space I could just do more randori and get used to moving at full force, or if I had a teacher I could access a little guidance on how to maximize the small space I have. I was planning on going to the Aikikai Aikido place in Oviedo but with a few problems in shop lately, I can't leave on the single day they teach. Whoever came up with the saying "when the student is ready the master will appear" was full of it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The other night me and Andy were going over Nijusan and ukemi (falling) practice. After realizing we don't do enough falling and moving on to Nijusan, Beleek came down to take some pics of us for my blog (which I may or may not show). I was glancing at one in particular and noticed I was slumping during practice. I have a small hunch in my shoulders that I never noticed before. Now I'm thinking about getting a new bed. Anywho the point of this post is I want to urge everyone to get someone to photo them during practice when they're relaxed. See how your posture looks, REALLY looks, not what you think it looks like. The results might surprise you.